Just as Julius Berger has a reputation in Nigeria for building quality roads, it’s drivers seem to have another reputation for reckless driving especially in the south eastern part of the country. The heavy duty truck drivers have been involved in so many incidents resulting fro reckless driving and misconduct on the road. Below is an article written by Temidayo Akinsuyi and published on AllAfrica.com about a case of reckless driving and consequent sue by the person involved.
After eight years, the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri has awarded the sum of N603, 180, 560 and 150, 000 Rupees against Julius Berger Nigeria Plc as general and special damages in an appeal and cross appeal instituted by the company and a woman, Philomena Ugo, in a case delineated CA/OW/146/2010.
This award, according to the presiding judge, Justice Raphael Chikwe Agbo, is in addition to the sum of N28, 516, 680 and 108, 000 Lakh that had earlier been awarded by a High Court sitting in Owerri as special damages for Mrs. Ugo’s treatment in Nigeria and part of her overseas treatment.
The case, which took a period of eight years, was filed by a Lagos based lawyer, Emeka Ozoani, asking for a court declaration that a Julius Berger driver, Godwin Obado’s negligent driving of a Julius Berger truck with Registration number XA 493 BWR and fleet number B4690 on December 8, 2006, which colluded with his client, Philomena Ugo’s car, was unlawful, malicious, reckless and negligent.
He also asked for a court declaration that Julius Berger is vicariously liable for the reckless, malicious and negligent driving of their truck by Godwin Obado.
The case started at the Magistrate Court in Onuimo, Imo State, where Godwin Obado was charged and convicted on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, on a two-count charge of driving without a driver’s license and negligent driving in charge No MCO/64C/2007.
During the trial, Julius Berger commenced a third-party proceeding against their insurer, Equity Assurance Plc, which they discontinued abruptly without giving reasons.
The case was also heard at the High court in Owerri and it was resolved in favour of Ozoani’s client.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the High Court and the cost awarded against it, Julius Berger appealed against the lower courts judgment on the ground that the learned trial judge misdirected itself in law by wrongly evaluating the evidence before it, by holding that the accident was caused by Julius Berger’s driver.
It also accused the court of failing to uphold the defendant’s distinctive evidence and awarding money based on receipts bearing Hilltop clinic and relying on evidence of Dr. Amachi Uchenna Kachi.
However, Ozoani based his arguments on four points: evidence of the police witness, sketch map of the accident scene, tagged Exhibit ‘A’, state of the pleadings and findings of the trial court on negligence of Godwin Obado.
He also filed a cross appeal claiming the judge erred in law when she failed to make finding on validity or otherwise of Godwin Obado’s driving license and also make award on some exhibits and exemplary damages.
At the end of the arguments, the appellate court judges that heard the case – Justice Peter Olabisi Ige, Justice Frederick O. Oho and the presiding Judge, Justice Agbo – ruled that some part of Ozoani’s cross appeal succeeds.